It's easy to say things like "Andy Dalton needs to take care of the football" or "We need to pressure Philip Rivers". It is important to look deeper into what the Bengals need to do in order to secure their first playoff win in over 20 years.
The Bengals offense needs to attack. There is no reason to sit back and avoid making a mistake. Andy Dalton has the third most passing touchdowns in his first three seasons in NFL history. He trails only Peyton Manning and Dan Marino. The Chargers have one of the worst defenses in the league and are even worse in defending the pass. The Bengals need to throw the ball and attack the Chargers.
The Bengals have the best defense in the AFC. There is no need to fear a shootout. In San Diego the Bengals held the potent Chargers offense to 10 points on their home court. It was the fewest points the Chargers were held to all season. The Bengals didn't allow the Chargers into the Red Zone.
To that point, the Bengals only allow their opponents into the Redzone 1.9 percent of the time in Paul Brown Stadium. Of those appearances, the Bengals have only allowed touchdowns 40 percent of the time.
The Bengals can and will pressure Philip Rivers. It is important that Mike Zimmer knows that Ken Wisenhunt knows what is coming. The Chargers are going to try and keep the ball for long drives. They will try and run but will probably not be successful. Rivers is going to find receivers in the short range of 6 to 15 yds and try and extend drives. The Bengals need to cover these routes to limit yards after the catch.
Bend but don't break is fine for this defense on Sunday. They don't need to get too creative. Limit dropping back lineman into coverage. Philip Rivers is the most accurate QB in the league this season and he will exploit those matchups.
The Bengals also need to run the ball. I think the phrase "run to open up the pass" will be huge in this game. The Chargers allow an average of 4.6 yds a carry. Move the ball on the ground and work in play action and the Chargers defense will be on its heels.
If the Bengals manage to do all of the above, we will be talking about what they need to do against the Patriots next weekend. I think this happens and I am excited to watch it all go down on Sunday. WhoDey!